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by Jim Densham
25 April 2022
Associate Feature: Time to deliver local cycling revolutions

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Associate Feature: Time to deliver local cycling revolutions

Low carbon revolutions
Cycling is the original zero carbon transport technology and still the most efficient form of transport ever. What’s more, it was invented in Scotland in 1839 by blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan who lived near Dumfries.  

During COP26 in Glasgow there was much talk of electric vehicles as the future of travel, but the experts are clear that we can’t get to net zero without reducing car use (electric and fossil fuel powered) and that means finding alternative means of transport. 

As Scotland embarks on a low carbon revolution, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, although since the humble bicycle’s invention its design has diversified massively. There’s a bike to suit everyone and every need – from balance bikes for bairns to cargo bikes for business, adaptive bikes for disabled people to hybrids for commuters. 

People want to cycle, and they want safe road space to cycle on. A YouGov survey we recently commissioned found that 61% of people in Scotland support redesigning the streets to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists – only 28% oppose. A majority supports more separated cycle lanes being built in their local areas.

Local revolutions
In the first year of the pandemic there was a 47% rise in the number of people cycling. Since then we have seen positive commitments for active travel from all parties at Holyrood, and announcements for record funding and new policies. Scotland is at last in a great place to move up the gears and deliver for cycling. It’s now up to Local Authorities across Scotland to be bold and urgently create the sustainable transport infrastructure that people want.
Our manifesto for the forthcoming local elections includes 10 things we believe councils must do to boost cycling in urban and rural areas. In addition to building high quality cycle lanes this list includes: 

  • Increasing the size and capability of council active travel teams
  • Streamlining processes so that cycle infrastructure can be installed quickly
  • Rolling out School Streets and 20mph zones to make neighbourhoods safer
  • Providing more secure cycle parking and storage spaces
  • Improving access to local greenspace 

The Scottish Government must not rest on its laurels but continue to provide the leadership and radical national plan to make the local cycling revolutions happen. A national blueprint for a network of active travel infrastructure is urgently needed, to be delivered in partnership with local authorities.

Lasting revolutions
It’s time to deliver for cycling but positive lasting change can only happen with continued support from Councillors and MSPs of all parties. 

Our new report ‘Getting there with cycling’ makes a strong case for building cycle infrastructure and is backed up with a wealth of evidence. It explains that people want it created, they want to use it and data shows that when it is built people will use it, benefitting their health, the environment, local economies and society.  

Building cycling infrastructure is a ‘no-brainer’ so councils mustn’t let a few vocal opponents stop them building the cycling infrastructure that the majority wants, and the majority will benefit from. New council teams put together after these local elections must step up and seize the opportunity to deliver the cycling infrastructure needed to make local cycling revolutions happen across Scotland.

This article is sponsored by Cycling UK.



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